Time on the Course
People who win marathons complete them in just over 2 hours. They are averaging sub 5 minute miles. It took me almost 13 hours to walk my marathon, that means almost 30 minute miles. Even if my marathon hadn’t been an unmitigated disaster, my training was for an 8.5 hour marathon – so about 19.5 minutes per mile. Now I’m training to run/walk a marathon in 8 hours. Slower runners spend a lot more time on the course: in the elements (sun, wind, rain whatever), on our feet, which equals a lot more impacts over the course of a long event, and in the what, at least for me, is the relative boredom of running a long time to end up where I started just more sweaty and probably with blisters.. I’m not arguing that it’s harder than running faster, just that it’s a different type of event with its own challenges.
Time Out of Your Life
Training for a marathon requires logging some serious miles. When you do those miles at 20 minutes per mile rather than, say 10 minutes per mile, that’s a lot of extra time. If you’re logging 20 miles in a week (a conservative number), the 10 minutes per mile person is spending a little over 3 hours putting one foot in front of the other each week. The 20 minutes per mile person is spending over 6.5 hours away from home. Over a year of marathon training that’s about 165 extra hours of running that have to be carved out of a busy scheduled.
The Joy of Passing
When you are a slow runner you spend lots of your time being passed by people, so there is a particular sense of joy – perhaps not the most mature joy – when you become the passer instead of the pass-ee. This has nothing whatsoever do to with the person you are passing – no doubt they are a fellow slow runner with whom you have slow runner solidarity which includes an understanding that being faster than someone, whether in a particular moment of a particular run or in general, doesn’t make you better than them – it’s purely about the experience of passing someone.
Nutrition is a Serious Thing
This one goes hand in hand with the time on the course. Exercising for two hours fueled by some water and Gatorade is one thing.. Exercising for 8 hours fueled by some water and Gatorade can lead to a hitting of the wall that is truly spectacular. Also, many of the “walker friendly” marathons leave the course open for 8 or 9 hours but close the aid stations on a much faster pace – for example a rolling 6 hours. That means that at some point in the race the water and Gatorade that the faster runners glibly grabbed on their way by the aid station aren’t available to you and if you want a drink of Gatorade you better be packing some Gatorade.
Jerks Who Think They Are the Decider of Running
These are sad people who aren’t able to be happy with their own path in running and choose to put someone else down to feel good about themselves, instead of dealing with their issues. These people typically choose a time – though, of course, a time that’s slower than what they run – that is “too slow.” So if they run a 6 hour marathon, they will likely say that anyone who takes 7 hours or more shouldn’t get to run or shouldn’t get to call themselves a marathoner or whatever, never mind the fact that a marathon is a distance, not a time, or that they are comfortable with taking three times longer than the people at the front of the marathon to finish and still calling themselves a marathoner.
Nobody has any obligation to run (or to engage in any kind of movement) but I think that everyone who wants to should have every option open to them and be welcomed with wide open arms.
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